Thursday, August 15, 2013

Did you know...

 It's prime berry picking season up here.  We go through about a six to eight week period of ripening berries where the women (and some men) rush to find "their spots." 

 Mom and Rea picking berries.  (I made both their atikluks)

Last year we had a horrible season.  It rained and rained and rained some more.  You can pick berries in the rain, but why would you want to!?  I think I purchased berries from up river last year to supplement the TWO days I was able to pick here.

Our season is one of four berries native to the arctic.  Aqpiks (UCK-pick) or Salmonberries ripen first.  They're technically Cloudberries, but people have called them salmonberries thanks to the similarity between the salmon eggs and the berry itself.

DID YOU KNOW:  That aqpiks are the highest contributor of Vitamin C found in Northern Alaska.  (I've heard rosehips have a higher Vit. C content but we don't find those here often). 

After the Aqpiks, come the blueberries.  Which is what I've been spending my time picking lately.  Tundra blueberries are small bursts of flavor.  The short growing season, combined with 24 hours of sun to ripen give them a seriously tart and distinct flavor.  I don't think anyone who grew up eating our blueberries can ever really "like" blueberries found in the lower 48. 

DID YOU KNOW:  Tundra blueberries mold and ferment very easily.  The only way to keep them from fermenting is to freeze them.  White sugar and seal oil or caribou fat will also keep blueberries from fermenting by removing the air from around the berry. Also, wild tundra blueberries have 10-20 times the nutritional value compared to domestically grown blues. 

Once the blues are softening the blackberries, and cranberries signal the last of the fall days, caribou hunting and time to get ready for winter.  Right now, it's happy berry picking season up here, though, we aren't going to talk about the end of fall just yet!

Monday, August 5, 2013


If you're my instagram or facebook friend, you know that I do lots of "stuff."  We bake a lot, sew a lot and do tons of outdoor activities with our kids.

Clockwise from top:  Fleece lined camouflage Atiluk size 12 Mo., 4th of July Cotton Atiluk size Women's M, Brushed fleece lined cotton atikluk, size 2T, Cotton fireweed atikluk size 2T.  

Quite a few times, I've been asked, "How do you have time to do EVERYTHING that you do?"  And by quite a few times, I'm talking like 5 times a day.  Especially after I sew three atikluks and read a book in one day.

Simple.  My time is prioritized. 

Clockwise from top:  Fleece Lined Blueberry Atikluk Jacket size 4T, Flannel Cupcake Atikluk size 18-24 Mo.,  Cotton boys pullover atikluk size 12 mo., Fleece lined waterproof Raincoat Atikluk Jacket size 4T

I have cable, but don't watch TV.  (Aside from Duck Dynasty and Glee marathons!)  We watch movies at night and when it's -40 below.  I have internet, but we don't get on youtube all day long (Aside from facebook and reading a few blogs on Saturday mornings!)  I don't play games on my phone, or iPad or on the internet.  (Aside from Draw Something before bed!)  And basically, I like it that way.

I haven't seen Jersey Shore, ever.  I haven't watched the latest youtube video.  I have never played Candy Crush. 

Clockwise from top:  Fleece lined Cotton "Florida Gators" Atikluk jacket size 2T, Fleece lined cotton fireweed Atikluk Jacket size 4T, Boys 4th of July pullover atiluk, size 10-12, Fleece Lined Camouflage Atikluk Jacket size 3T

I have, however, in the last two months sewn about 25 atikluks, two pairs of mukluks and baked several cakes, cinnamon rolls and more.  I have also read about 10 books in the last month or so, two on Saturday.

Men's Pullover Camouflage Atikluk size L

I have caught fish and filleted them.  I have camped out on the beach with good friends.  I have taught my daughter how to sew her own sweatshirt.  I have taught my son how to fillet a fish with an ulu.  I have enjoyed my nieces at my house.  I have picked berries with my sister.   I have sewn, sewn and sewn some more! 

Clockwise from top: Matching Forget-Me-Not Cotton Atikluks size 3T & 3-6 Mo., Cotton 4th of July Atikluk size Women's Small, Fleece Lined Atikluk Jacket size Women's Small, Fleece Lined Cotton Atikluk Jacket size 24 Mo.

I've made purses, bags, atikluks (Eskimo pullover shirt/jackets), mukluks, sweaters, pants, shorts, wallets, harnesses, parkas, etc.  All in the last three months.  Because all we have is time, the important part, though, is how you spend it. 

"Too Small T-Shirt Conversion!"  Added a skirt and pocket to a too-small shirt.

I choose to spend my time doing things I love to do.  Sew.  Bake.  Read.  Subsist.  Not necessarily in that order! 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Fish on!

A whole few months of no blogging.  I don't know if I'm bored of it, or tired of it, or too busy for it!  Maybe I think if you wanna read about my life, you should be my facebook friend. haha.  I don't know.

Fishing is on the brain right now.  (And softball)  The twins came up and FINALLY caught shiifish through the ice.  We have been trying for the past six years to get them to hook a fish through the ice and this year the ice was here late enough that they did it.

Max, of course, is hooked!  Maddie, eh, she caught one, and was done with it! haha.

But at least we get to enjoy fish right? 

Speaking of fish... we have some pretty fresh wild Alaska Salmon up here.  We fish for Chum, which isn't what you think it is.  Ours are silver, fresh, firm ocean fish, not the stripey alligator fish Chum are known for.  Luckily, we get them when they look like silvers.  I wouldn't eat anything with stripes on it!  (By the way, I fillet all my fish with an ulu.)

But the best of fish is the Sockeye Salmon that we don't get up here.  They're caught either with a dipnet in Kenai or a fish wheel in Copper Center.  This year was my first experience dipnetting.

CRAZINESS, and I loved it.  I am planning a trip with our WHOLE family next year.  Heck with just me going.  EVERYONE needs to go!  It was so fun.  We ended up with about 20 fish, which isn't too much, but better than nothing and Dean-o was happy to be able to smoke reds.

I was just happy to get more fish for the freezer.  Freezer talk:  TODAY is the first day of Moose Season.  Bam.  Time to go hunting for red meat!